What is Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and EQ?

SEL Model

Social and Emotional Learning Model

The model is adapted according to the needs of the audience.



Training for educators, parents or caregivers focuses on their personal development of the eight core competencies.  This growth process occurs through talks, workshops and individual one-on-one training sessions.

Enlightened and socially and emotionally competent adults are self-aware. They know their emotional capability, their strengths and limitations and they know how to use this to generate positive emotions to motivate learning within themselves and their learners or children.  They have high levels of social awareness and are able to build strong relationships based on mutual understanding and empathy.  This gives them strong tools for managing conflict situations in the classroom or at home. These adults appreciate diversity and take cultural differences into consideration when dealing with parents, learners, colleagues or friends. They are able to make responsible decisions based on sound values and solid judgement.

Teachers and parents with high social emotional competence are in control of their own emotions and behaviour. They are able to regulate their emotions and behaviour to manage conflict situations positively, encourage emotional expression and respectful communication, and manage disruptive behaviour constructively. Teachers are also able to motivate their classrooms by creating a learning environment that encourages creative, autonomous thinking and reflection.


Children, Adolescence and Youth

Training happens through the 8 Week Social Skills Programme.

This programme is an educational process for developing life skills.  It’s a process through which learners develop knowledge and learn how to apply certain important skills to begin to understand and effectively manage the way that they think, feel and behave. They come to understand how these three elements are inter-related.  They develop an emotional vocabulary so that they can understand what and how they are feeling and learn to self-regulate enough to stop and think before choosing their behaviour. Once they have achieved this level of self-awareness they can then be taught how their feelings and behaviour impact on others and affect the personal relationships that they have with their peers, teachers and family members.

Through social and emotional learning and development we focus on some very specific skill sets and use specific age-appropriate resources and activities to assist in this learning process.

The Social and Emotional Competencies that are taught in this Programme are:



In this competency we teach children how to recognise emotions within themselves and we give them an emotional vocabulary.  We also help them to understand and name the feeling and what makes them feel that way, giving them the skill to explore where they feel it in there bodies.  They also discover personal strengths and areas of personal challenge.  We aim to guide the child to understand the inter-connectedness between recognising and labelling the emotion, and processing that cognitively so that they can choose a more socially acceptable and appropriate behaviour.  By understanding and having an emotional vocabulary a child becomes more confident of being in control of his behaviour.



Self-Management is about teaching the skills and attitudes necessary for self-regulation of emotions and behaviour.  This includes the ability to delay gratification, manage stress and anxiety, control impulses and persevere through challenges. Practical coping skills such as breathing techniques, visualisations or going to your ‘safe place’ as well as the ability to role-play and model acceptable behaviours are taught.


Social Awareness

Children are taught to recognise, understand and appreciate individual differences such as cultural diversity. It also involves understanding social norms for behaviour along with the rules, norms and values for schools, classrooms and team sports.  They are shown the value of belonging to a broader community outside of the home.


Relationship Skills

Here children are taught how to build and sustain healthy relationships with peers and adults through developing skills such as empathy, listening actively, communicating clearly, reading body language, co-operating and navigating social pressures that happen when interacting with peers or negotiating conflicts in a game.


Goal-Directed Behaviour

A child’s initiation of and persistence in completing tasks.  This is about the child’s ability to stay focused when distracted, to go back to the task at hand and to persist and show ‘grit’ when faced with challenges or obstacles.


Responsible Decision-Making (Personal Responsibility and Decision-Making)

Decision making is happening all the time but the idea of responsible decision making means being able to evaluate options or behaviours, being able to foresee possible outcomes, being able to negotiate which decisions come with certain benefits or certain consequences.  It involves understanding what decision is appropriate in terms of safety and the ability to consider the safety of others.


Optimistic Thinking

A child’s attitude of confidence, hopefulness, and positive thinking regarding himself and his life situation in the past, present and future.

These skills are taught using various age-appropriate resources and activities to encourage authentic and meaningful communication and connections between the children, their classmates and their teachers as well as with their family members. Through strategies such as mindful games, social role-playing and re-modelling of behaviour, breathing techniques, sensory awareness and guided visualisations children will learn to identify, understand and regulate their feelings and big emotions.  They will learn the social and emotional skills that will help them find the most appropriate behavioural response in challenging situations.  Positive inner-talk and self-compassion will be encouraged.


The 3-Tier approach for sustainable change:

Sustainable change is achieved through a 3-tiered approach involving the programme facilitator, a school representative such as the classroom teacher or classroom assistant and the parents.

The school representative is present and partakes in the weekly one-hour sessions that are run by the programme facilitator at the school.  In this way the school representative is able to reinforce the competency being taught for the week in the classroom on a daily basis.

Role-playing and re-modelling of inappropriate behaviours can also be practiced over and over again during the week. Parents/caregivers are introduced to the programme through a parent meeting before the first session where the aim and purpose of the programme is explained.  The importance of their commitment to the programme and the family homework that is sent to them on a weekly basis is emphasised as a critical factor to the overall success of the programme.

A follow-up feedback meeting is offered at the end of the programme for parents and caregivers.  Open communication is guaranteed through feedback emails to the teacher by the programme facilitator after each session and an open door policy for parents/caregivers and teacher contact with the programme facilitator at all times.


Assessing Social and Emotional well-being in learners

The Social and Emotional Learning Centre uses a strength-based social and emotional assessment tool to gauge the social and emotional levels of learners in classrooms.  This assessment is simple and easy to administer.  It is most typically done by the class teacher and is a reflection of the social and emotional levels of the classroom at that time.  The tool gives learner outcomes in the eight specific competencies that are taught and in this way enables work to be focused where it is needed most.

Teacher assessments of the social and emotional climate of their classrooms shifts the focus of social and emotional development from intervention to prevention; from waiting for behaviours to interfere with school success to proactively building a foundation of skills that are vital for school and life success.

This is achieved through creating an awareness of learners in need, enabling educators to ensure that those learners receive adequate and appropriate attention and assistance.  It is also important for educators to be aware of the students who score in the strength area in this assessment as they can contribute positively to group work and general leadership in the classroom.



Step-by-step approach to the implementation of our SEL Model

  • Approach identified community
  • Get-buy in from principal
  • Teacher training offered on DESSA
  • DESSA assessments by teachers
  • SEL Teacher Training
  • Parent talk on SEL 8 week course before programme begins
  • SEL 8 week programme with students
  • Parent talk after completion of programme
  • Continual support in the school – follow up one-on-one or group sessions
  • Follow up of DESSA – children in need – group sessions on particular competency for children in need
  • Group counselling / individual counselling for learners and parents